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Hosta-Not a Dog's Best Friend

Gardening is always a learning adventure for me, but my first few years had the greatest learning curve. Unfortunately my sweet dog, Rosco, paid the price for my inexperience.
I am a do-it-yourself-er. There really isn't a project I won't at least attempt to tackle, so, on a nice warm sunny morning, I decided to finish painting the house. It was just a second coat on the side of the garage. I figured I could start and finish the project in time for my afternoon appointment.

Our dog Rosco, a Bichon and Lhasa mix, was only a year or so old at the time and full of life. I didn't want to keep him caged inside on such a nice day, so I put him on a lead near where I was working. It just so happened along the garage was a row of hosta plants.

As I painted, Rosco did his best to get my attention. He jumped on the ladder, barked, and ran around with his toys being his goofy self. When that didn't work, he started pulling up my hosta and then shredding the leaves. (My buddy was the master shredder. We had to replace a few library book because of him.) I would get down from the ladder, take the hosta out of his mouth, and get back to painting. I had a project to finish!
After a while I noticed he wasn't bothering me anymore and when I looked at him I was panicked! He was laying with a foaming mouth and then started to vomit violently. I rushed him in the house, put him in the bathtub and tried to rinse his mouth out. I had no idea what could have caused this, and I was scared to death. I tried to get him to drink, not wanting him to get dehydrated but when he couldn't keep water down I called the vet.
We were immediately seen by the doctor and, going through the past events of the day, determined it was the hosta that made him sick. He was given medication and fluids under the skin around his shoulder blades. Poor little guy  looked like a baby camel with a huge hump on his back. It took him the rest of the night and into the next day to begin to recover. I tearfully begged his forgiveness for not knowing and letting him play with the toxic hosta while I worked.
Rosco recovered ( he also forgave me-his kisses were a dead giveaway) and I learned a valuable lesson, one that I am happy to share, and hopefully spare your fur baby-Hosta is not a dog's best friend! The plant contains saponins, a chemical toxic to dogs and other small animals. The saponins foam up when they enter the dog's mouth and the foam can paralyze the digestive track. This makes the dog unable to rid itself of the toxins. With Rosco, it wasn't as sever and caused vomiting and diarrhea. In larger breads the foaming of the saponins can even cause bloating and the intestines to twist requiring surgery to correct. No matter the severity of the symptoms, the dog is in pain and I strongly suggest contacting your vet if you suspect your dog has digested any part of the hosta including the roots.
Now, with all that being said, I still grow hosta. It was a fluke that Rosco decided to shred the hosta because it never happened again. Trust me, I watched closely! When our new dog is around the beds, I watch him closely too to make sure he doesn't get near the hosta. So far he hasn't shown any interest in the plant. If you are concerned about growing hosta, there are dog friendly shade plants that can be great replacements. Astilbe, Yellow Corydalis, Coral Bells, and Columbine are just a few.
Gardening has a learning curve. I hope this shortens your curve and helps keep your fur buddy happier and healthier!
(original posting date 5-11-2020)

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